Best Time for HbA1c Test

The Best time for HbA1c Test

Hemoglobin A1c Testing: Expert Tips for Timing and Interpretation

Hemoglobin A1c testing provides invaluable insights into long-term blood glucose control. But what’s the optimal timing and usage for accurate diabetes screening and management?

The best time for an HbA1c test, which measures blood sugar levels over time, isn’t specific to a particular time of day. This test can be conducted at any time since it reflects average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months.

  • HbA1c is the gold standard for long-term diabetes monitoring, reflecting 2-3 month average blood glucose
  • HbA1c can be translated into estimated average glucose levels more intuitive for patients
  • Using HbA1c alone risks missing early diabetes/prediabetes in high-risk groups
  • Combining HbA1c screening with fasting glucose or OGTTs boosts sensitivity
  • Timing of testing should fit clinical need – ongoing management vs diagnosis

The optimal timing for a Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test depends on the clinical context, as HbA1c provides information on average blood glucose levels over the prior 2-3 months.

  1. HbA1c is considered the gold standard for long-term monitoring of glycemic control in patients with diabetes, reflecting average blood glucose levels during the previous 2-3 month period according to a 2010 consensus statement (Hanås & John, 2010).
  2. Research shows HbA1c levels correlate well with estimated average glucose (eAG) levels in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This allows HbA1c percentages to be translated into eAG mg/dL units that may be more intuitive for patients to grasp (Nathan et al., 2008).
  3. However, a 2011 study found HbA1c has low sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing prediabetes or diabetes in certain populations like obese children and adolescents (Nowicka et al., 2011). Using it as a standalone test may miss early dysglycemia.
  4. Additionally, some analyses indicate HbA1c alone may be insufficiently sensitive for screening for early diabetic states compared to using both HbA1c and plasma glucose tests (Fajans, Herman, & Oral, 2011).

While HbA1c is invaluable for ongoing diabetes monitoring, it may be best used in combination with additional glucose tests when screening high-risk patients or diagnosing early dysglycemic states. Timing it together with fasting plasma glucose or OGTTs can provide complementary data. The optimal testing approach depends on the clinical scenario and population. Consult your doctor for further information or if you have any concerns.


Hanås, R., & John, G. (2010). 2010 consensus statement on the worldwide standardization of the hemoglobin A1C measurement. Diabetes care, 33(8), 1903-1904.

Nathan, D. M., Kuenen, J., Borg, R., Zheng, H., Schoenfeld, D., & Heine, R. J. (2008). Translating the A1C assay into estimated average glucose values. Diabetes care, 31(8), 1473-1478.

Nowicka, P., Santoro, N., Liu, H., Lartaud, D., Shaw, M. M., Goldberg, R., … & Caprio, S. (2011). Utility of hemoglobin A1c for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes in obese children and adolescents. Diabetes care, 34(6), 1306-1311.

Fajans, S. S., Herman, W. H., & Oral, E. A. (2011). Insufficient sensitivity of hemoglobin A1C determination in diagnosis or screening of early diabetic states. Metabolism, 60(1), 86-91.

Spread the word

Similar Posts